atelier tekuto: earth bricks
atelier tekuto: earth bricks atelier tekuto: earth bricks
sep 29, 2011

atelier tekuto: earth bricks

‘earth-bricks’ by atelier tekuto, chiba, japan image © toshihiro sobajima

japanese architecture practice atelier tekuto has recently completed ‘earth-bricks’, a residential structure located in chiba, japan. the curved exterior wall is formed from 2,600 earth bricks comprised of a dense mixture of soil and magnesium oxide, an element which can be easily sourced from ‘magnesite mineral’, commonly found in oceans and land. originally used for the mortar joints of the pyramids and great wall of china, this structure aspires to reintroduce masonry construction sourced from local soil as a viable option for developing countries.

extended roof eave with exposed beams image © toshihiro sobajima

the stacked rectangular bricks are slightly angled to produce the undulating and faintly segmented perimeter enclosure. a deep roof overhang extends to screen a ribbon clerestory window formed with glass blocks of similar proportions to the custom soil-based units. at night, the dwelling softly glows through the translucent glazing of the fenestrations. upon entering the central living space and kitchen, attention is directed to the exposed structure of the vaulted ceilings. rafters radiate downward from the main ridge element, which is reminiscent of a spine. the curved stairway attached to the exterior wall leads inhabitants to an open bedroom loft with views of the great room below. the bathroom and storage room are concealed within a partition behind the food preparation area and underneath the wooden steps.

(left) entrance facade (right) front door images © toshihiro sobajima

(left) earth brick detail (right) upward view from great room images © toshihiro sobajima

view of entrance and great room from kitchen image © toshihiro sobajima

kitchen image © toshihiro sobajima

great room image © toshihiro sobajima

(left) corridor to bathroom (right) space under stairway images © toshihiro sobajima

bathroom image © toshihiro sobajima

(left) bathroom (right) view of ceiling from the loft image © toshihiro sobajima

(left) stairs leading to the loft (right) top of stairs from the loft images © toshihiro sobajima

clerestory windows under roof eave image © toshihiro sobajima

light emanates through translucent glass windows image © toshihiro sobajima

illuminated at night image © toshihiro sobajima

masonry wall under construction image courtesy atelier tekuto

site planimage courtesy atelier tekuto

floor plan / level 0image courtesy atelier tekuto

floor plan / level 1image courtesy atelier tekuto

sectionimage courtesy atelier tekuto

elevationimage courtesy atelier tekuto

elevationimage courtesy atelier tekuto

elevationimage courtesy atelier tekuto


block formation diagram

process to make the earth block mixtureimage courtesy atelier tekuto

wall sectionimage courtesy atelier tekuto

project info:

site area: 184.62㎡ building area: 47.84㎡ total floor area: 41.39㎡ structure: masonry – earth block architecture design: yasuhiro yamashita+masahiko takada+azusa ishii+ryo takagi/atelier tekuto structural design: jun sato+yuko mihara/jun sato structural engineer mechanical design: kazuhiro endo/eos plus lighting design: sueko kanaya/visual technologies experiment supervision: matsumura, fujita lab./university of tokyo, koshiishi lab./waseda university construction: atelier tekuto, yoshiro goda/ogawa kyoritsu construction photographer: toshihiro sobajima

  • elegant and functional: great combination!

    lorena riba says:
  • Very intriguing design and fine execution. I assume the owner(s) sleep on the platform above the bathroom and kitchen? But except in the kitchen I do not see any cabinets or room for storage.

    airborn says:
  • congratulations

    geert-hugo says:
  • Ohhhh, I miss the cement . . . and the ubiquitous telephone pole . . . but, to keep me happy, they’ve given me the Swan ad next door. So, I suppose, if one wanted to go outside and sit in the garden, one could “think” swans instead of actually see them. Oh, those Japanese are clever.
    I like the building, but I don’t. Has the world gone

  • Finally a Japanese home with warmth and texture. This is the coolest one I’ve seen in a while!

    Hats off to Atelier Tekuto! says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
502,392 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample